Monday, 24 September 2012

Missing anything?

Steve Pickering, Head Ranger at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, has been in touch to say they have found a notebook full of ring numbers and bird names. Its not one of ours, so check your pockets and if you find your missing a note book you know who to contact!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

This week we have been mostly...

.... ringing birds, despite the paucity of postings on the blog might suggest!.
Vaf, with Dr V, has been busy showing Cardiff University students the joys of birds and bird ringing during a field course, catching an average of 0.4 birds per student. On Friday he jetted off to Portugal for some PhD field work with his family.
CJ and Facey head out to test the water for wader season. It proved to be a fruitful exercise; in 5 seconds of the sounds going on, five redshank were in the net. It genuinely happened that fast! At the end of play 23 redshank and a dunlin had been ringed, with at least another 9 RS bouncing.
Facey and Pliers Morris headed to the Bay on Saturday for a bumper catch of 8 birds. The mix was good though with a Reed Warbler, Whitethroat and a Blackcap on the list.
Later, the pair headed to the stables for the last RAS catch of the 2012 season. Three of the four birds caught were retraps. Among them was this fella who, while his misses just re-feathered her brood patch, has decided to start his wing and tail moult - with a touch of body moult too. The inner two primaries have already been replaced and his inner most tail feathers were in pin. X558872 was first recorded at the stables last year in mid September, in the same stable.

Yes, not the best photo by you can make out the two new blue inner most
primaries contrasting with the old brown outer primaries. They usually do moult
in Africa but occassionally birds decide to start earlier. For another example

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Ringed locally?

Is a question we’ve heard on the web a few times about colour ringed birds in the Cardiff/Glamorgan area. If the species is listed below then the chances are the answer is “Yes, by us!”

As many of the projects aim to look at survival as well as connectivity we’d love you to tell us about your sightings (, even if you think the bird was ringed locally/on the site you saw it.

Swallow - mainly at Cardiff Riding School. A general overview of this project is here

Coot – several water bodies in and around Cardiff. We’ve already had some good movements from these see here and here.

Blackbirds – Pontcanna Fields

As part of James' PhD we are colour ringing the following at Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve, Cosmeston and Kenfig:
Sedge Warbler
Reed Warbler
Cetti’s Warbler

Monday, 17 September 2012

Late news from last week

Last week was our September visit to catch Dippers and other watery birds at the WTSWW's Taf Fechan Reserve. We set up the net on what Sherpa Solman has christened "The Meander of Shame" in reference to our previous record of bugger all for that stretch of river. There was (some) method to our madness as the Meander of Shame is right next to some lovely hawthorn scrub which offered the chance to vary our catch.
In true CR style things didn't go exactly according to plan. Two Dippers flew toward the net as I was just making my way back across the channel, so they avoided us like the plague for the rest of the session. And of course the hive of activity in the hawthorn scrub dried up the moment the nets went up there.
We ended the day with two dippers and one each of Grey Wag, Robin and a Great Tit. Not exactly the bumper haul we were hoping for but nevertheless it was time well spent.

This little lady was the second of two dippers. A third, or
possibly this one again, bounced. She is very cute. The two
that arrived early were going downstream, the two we caught
were going up stream.

Its never a bad morning when one of these ends up in the net.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

If It Isn't Bolted Down...

Today I had about £100 worth of ringing equipment stolen almost from under my nose while packing up the nets at a supposedly private site near Cardiff.

Which put a bit of a dampener on an otherwise rather good morning during which just over 100 captures were recorded. I had little option other than to return home and make myself a large fry-up. Thankfully the perpetrator(s) left the nets untouched.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Cardiff Ringers on Tour

Last Friday morning seemed full of potential. The potential that those five unringed blackbirds would end up recruited into our RAS and a weekend in Devonshire would be replete with birdies.

At Pontcanna, nets were erected. We waited. A small skirmishing party headed in to the riding school to ring two of the three final swallow broods of 2012. After waiting three hours, during which six 60ft nets remained devoid of birds apart from a retrap blackbird and a new robin, we packed up.

In the afternoon a small contingent head undetected across the Severn Bridge to Sharpham Estate near Totnes in the land of Devonshire. We were ringers on tour with one aim; to bling as many migrants in a two day ringing blitz for the estate. A convenient board walk into part of the reed bed provided a ready made ride, that only needed a little bit of a tweaking. We thought the Gods of Ringing would be smiling on us for the next two days when they delivered a REEWA and a SEDWA within 10 minutes of the nets going up, closely followed by the "gift" of two Wrens... Sunset came, swallow calls were broadcast, a party of 60 flew over the reedbed, close to the net. Two were caught… One had an abscess.

The view from our ride; it provided good sightings of water rail,
and common and green sandpiper. Also a kingfisher nearly flew
into the net just before this photo was take. One of many misses
 Saturday we awoke to what appear to be the sound of rain on what was forecast to be sunny and still day. It was just fog dripping from leaves onto our tents. It hung around until gone 11; we caught a mere 6 birds in 9 hours. Robins and Dunnocks No swallows came to say hello. But we did get to eat a stonking rabbit, black-pudding and cider stew!

Sunday; tiny bit of fog. Things looked up when a SEDWA graced the nets. Then a BLACA.Then a retraped Wren and finally... a Blue Tit... The God's clearly hated us.

Meanwhile at the bay... CJ and the crew racked up 50+ birds.... But they didn't get the stew!

(Ed: and on Wednesday morning another 80 between showers, including a SPOFL)
One of only two SEDWAs and 6 migrants caught
in Devonshire in two days. Next year. Next year

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Flying Flat Flies!

Another avian blood feeder for your delectation; you didn't think we were just going to stop at one did you?

Last time we told you about a flightless host specialist (at least it was very picky) but this time we have a species that can be described as a flighted host-hussy of a flat fly; Ornithomya avicularia.

With three others of its kind, this specimen of O. avicularia ably demonstrated its species’ ability to fly by flitting into the face of the ringer who was extracting their host. In this case they were partaking of blackbird but as a species, O. avicullaria is Catholic in its tastes; Hutton lists preferred hosts in orders rather than single species. It seems to prefer bigger birds though, with blackbird being at the smaller end of its hosts.
There are another two species of Ornithomya in the UK which seem to be just as unfussy as O. avicularia, so "hopefully" we'll be finding those soon... Worldwide there are 29 known species. We will not be featuring them all.

O. avicullara is a little more attractive than Crataerina hirundinis
but, lets face its, when it comes to flat flies its relative.

This is a female, the little disc between the "bum cheeks" is, apparently, the way
you tell... You can also see how the wings of this species are actually useful. 

Even parasites get parasites (hyperparasitism) and this specimen had its own
passenger; a louse or something. Don't worry we're not planning a series of
"parasites of flatflies".... Hyperparasitism doesn't seem to be that common in
 F-flies; Walter (1989, Angew Parasitol 1989 vol 30) 4 out of 153 O. avicularia
were infested by something called Microlichus avus.
That's all we're going to say on the subject.


Side view for completeness.